Judith is a Sydney theatre worker who was ‘born in a trunk’. With a lifelong passion for all performing arts, she has turned her hand to many jobs in film, TV and live theatre. Ranging from earning pocket money for trimming the back legs off tables, so they sat flat on raked stages to owning her own touring theatre company. A lighting designer by trade, Judith experiences performances with a technical eye and an understanding of the jobbing actor and the theatrical bedrock which supports them.
Featured photo- Lexi Laphor in ‘The Glass Bedroom’, an Arts Bite Project.
Ready for Mardi Gras 2018? It will be the 40th anniversary and the creative juices of Australian LGBTQI documentary filmmakers must be bubbling like champagne as Screen Australia and ABC TV Arts announce LOVE BITES.
In recognition of the milestone, Screen Australia and ABC TV Arts have teamed up to provide an national platform for Australian LGBTQI filmmakers … a curated series of 10 x 5 minute shorts to be premiered on the ABC Arts channel on iview during Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March 2018. Under the banner LOVE BITES applications are now being received and will close Sunday August 6th.
The initiative is backed by funding and practical support. ABC TV and Screen Australia will commit a total of $100,000 to this initiative, offering 10 filmmakers $10,000 each to make the short film for delivery in January 2018. Each team will be supported by a Screen Australia Investment Manager and an ABC Digital Arts Commissioning Editor. Continue reading LOVE BITES : A DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING LGBTQI INITIATIVE→
Featured photo credit Viv McGregor. Outstanding Committee left to right; Sophie Robinson, Alex Greenwich, Gail Hewison, Robert Tate and Teresa Savage.
It’s official! IT’S COMPLICATED is the theme for this year’s OUTSTANDING short story competition.
The OutStanding Short Story Competition is Australia’s premier creative writing event for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer community of Australia and New Zealand and this year’s competition was launched at a low key event in the heart of Oxford Street.
Alex Greenwich, Independent Member for Sydney and long standing supporter, made the announcement last night. With the bit of a tussle he had with a tightly sealed envelope adding to the suspense, eager writers gathered in the intimate feathered and pink chandeliered bar waiting to see where their imagination would take them. Continue reading LGBTIQ : OUTSTANDING SHORT STORY COMPETITION→
Despite being surrounded by the buzz of the Volunteer Green Room on this final day of the 2017 Sydney Writers Festival, I am a little contemplative. Saying goodbye to people I have only known for a week is harder than I expected. Realistically, the more I consider it, nothing about volunteering for the SWF has been as I expected.
When I was working in the crowded Club Stage yesterday I was struck by a comment from Steve Amsterdam about a reader’s response to some of the events of his novel THE EASY WAY OUT. “You are on a ride and you want to see a lot of things on a ride.” And a ride of discovery it has been for my first experience as a vollie for the Festival. The volunteer experience is so well organized for this event. 250 people seamlessly fit together and there is time for contemplation and discovery. I have learned so much about myself. Continue reading DIARY OF A VOLUNTEER – SYDNEY WRITER’S FESTIVAL 2017→
In the first few minutes of BUGSY MALONE vast numbers of bad guys are done in by vicious cream pie attacks and random bystanders are felled by crazy string machine guns. Little Chicago circa 1920s is littered with speakeasy staff and speak quickly mob bosses. By the time we get to Fat Sam’s Grand Slam and the body count is piling up, we are so glad that there are over 50 young people in the cast … we just don’t want the fun to end through lack of upright citizens.
Because, from the top of the show, Hills Musical Theatre Company’s BUGSY MALONE, performed exclusively by kids (from 10-16 years) is joyous, thrilling, incomparable community theatre. It’s a treat for all ages and a testament to what young people can do if we prepare them, support them and let ’em loose!
There’s a mob war happening, you see. Fat Sam is being out-armed by Dandy Dan who has managed to find a supplier for a secret weapon. Splurge guns! No longer are the streets slick with the failed hurlings of mano-on-mano flans, this new invention targets victims directly where it hurts. Fat Sam needs to get those guns and he has the green stuff to hire the best driver in the business, our narrator and all round good guy, Bugsy Malone.
In 1974, to keep his four kids entertained on long car trips English Filmmaker Alan Parker (who would direct a huge variety of films from FAME to MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) made up a story about a Chicago gangster from snippets of memory of films and books he had encountered. His eldest son, Alex, insisted that the story had to be about kids. When Parker decided to make a film of his amusing tale he enlisted Paul Williams to write the music and went on a talent search for young people. Jodie Foster and Scott Baio were just two names in the film and when it became a musical in 1983, Micky Dolenz from The Monkeys directed a young Catherine Zeta-Jones to wide acclaim.
Now for a new list of names. Any one of these kids could be the next generation of Australian musical theatre stars. They are remarkably talented and focused in a family friendly show with Hills MTC’s traditionally high production values.
Let’s have a quick chat about that first. Peek at the early promo images for the show and you will see kids in school musical costumes. Dangling sleeves, Dad’s cut down suit. Go and see the show now and you will see superbly envisioned costumes (Rebecca Demary- co-ordinator).
Every child’s costume fits them, so do their hats and shoes and ties and furs and fans and pom pom fringes. Each change, and there are many, gives the young artist a character to bring on with them. The showgirls look glorious in their beaded and sequined and fringed gold flapper dresses and then they come out in the second act in equally lush silver costumes. Just brilliant! Continue reading HILLS MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY PUT ON A CRACKER PRODUCTION OF ‘BUGSY MALONE’→
Jetpack Theatre’s ART HEIST is inspired storytelling. Yet there is no story and no telling. You and your companions are the story, the triumph, the saga! Whatever exposition you choose to tell. The 3 performers are just there, part of the tale as you write the script. And these are very nuanced actors with improvisation instincts that must be tested over their 3 shows a night. Great scene partners too because this is bespoke, immersive theatre of the highest calibre.
But, not quite knowing what I was getting into I gathered an odd assortment of four players. We were young (our Yr 11 Workplacement student, Lauren) and old (that would be me). A married couple (Bec and Ben) who know each other well, naturally. I don’t know Ben well except for a dance with him at the wedding and Lauren didn’t know anyone except me. We were a logical yet creative collective. An artist, a banker, a technician and an actor. Continue reading JETPACK’S ‘ART HEIST’ : AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT→
This week, in an organisation I work with, I participated in a study about volunteer retention. Today I had a practical lesson in how. Via the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Survey taker Induction. How hard can it be? I might just miss this one! It will be fine on the day! It’s all good! Just asking questions, right? This might have been my thinking when my roster first came out but my Festival volunteer experience so far leads me to believe that if they run a course in something, go to it. And I was right.
We were a pretty representative group and all the worries when I am approached to do surveys were mentioned in today’s briefing: Is my data available to marketers; if I give you my email to enter the competition for a $200 Glebebooks voucher, is it linked to my data; you just want me to say good stuff about the Festival don’t you; will you be sending me emails asking for donations? Answer to all of the above. Nope. Continue reading Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017→
You can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. Well I suppose you could. But not if you are the Genesian Theatre Company. This is their metier. A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED is gripping, stylish entertainment. Adapted by Leslie Darbon, the play is from 1987 but it retains all the period elements that audiences require of a Christie Mystery. The Genesians have assembled an excellent cast, put them on a lovely set and costumed them superbly.
A unusual notice has been put in the village paper of the small English spa town of Chipping Cleghorn. It announces a murder will be committed at ‘Little Paddocks’ on Friday evening at 6:30. The household see it as rather a joke but neighbours and villagers are sure to drop by around about then. And no one is going to keep a certain Miss Jane Marple, in the village to take the waters for her rheumatism, away from the possibility of a delicious mystery.
And delicious it is. Owing much to the way the climax has been adapted by the playwright who has wisely removed some of the novel’s more hysterical events such as an attempted drowning in the kitchen sink and the Snugglepuss redolent, Miss Murgatroyd: yet kept the period flavour which is required to keep Miss M in her place and time. Continue reading AGATHIE CHRISTIE’S ‘A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED’ @ THE GENESIANS→
Between is exactly how I would describe Mophead Theatre’s world premiere production of Melita Rowston’s BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON. The play is not quite sure of its identity and the cast are caught in the blurry light between natural beauty and mechanical glare. There is some fine work to be seen in the production, work which explores the complex ideas and does its best to elevate the overstatement.
Australian Academic Zadie works at King’s College, London. She is being pressured by the publish or perish mentality as she struggles to complete her PHD. She proposes that there is a letter somewhere that proves that Édouard Manet, despite his denials, was lover to his oft subject, and artist in her own right, Berthe Morisot. She is also supervising her effervescent French student, Dominique, and dealing with a younger, almost lover, Barry, who has come to London to display in a prestigious art competition. When she travels to Paris at the behest friend and Head of Department, Janet, she has random encounters with artistic provocateur Jeff. Continue reading BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE→
Any new experience can be a bit scary and there were a lot of reassured volunteers today when Misty, Sydney Writer’s Festival Volunteer Manager looked across the rows of eager newbies and said. “You will probably be petrified when you arrive at the Vollies Green Room for the first time. Don’t worry. We’ll spot you!” And that’s my takeaway from today’s Volunteer Orientation, we are in good hands.
Experience tells and as Misty and Ashleigh, the Volunteer Co-coordinator, warmly greeted the hundreds of volunteers as we queued for orientation, they knew our names and what we were slated for. Both the old hands like some of the people around me, and novices like myself and the new queue friend I had just made.
It looked like there were equal numbers of both as we did a show of hands for the more experienced and the excitable new ones. I sort of expected older people for reasons that don’t make any sense when I think about it. We are young and old, able bodied and differently abled. My new intergenerational friend is an aspiring writer and the couple near me voracious readers. And we all seem to be ‘volunteery’ type people. RFS, SES, Red Cross, working with youth, nursing home visitor we all seem to do something and so many people look forward to giving their time on the SWF each year.
Including our team supervisors. 28 of them with 130 combined Festivals between them. As badges were given for 5, 10 years volunteer service up to an impressive 13 years, I was getting that very calming ‘we’ve got you’ vibe. And the training only served to put me even further at ease. Emergency training, weather training, anecdotes to learn from and lots of thank yous and look after yourselfs. And being of a theatrical bent, I especially loved the variety of ways one of our trainers said nearly 30 times. “Don’t go in the water!” It’s not a thing apparently!
There is no secret to how to behave when you are a volunteer. We are united by a willingness and desire to help just as the SWF crowds are united in their love of ideas and their expression. Well behaved too we are told. Our team leaders have encountered most out of norm situations and as hundreds of us were ushered around the site by helpful, friendly, knowledgeable supervisors we got a real time, best practice demonstration.
There’s homework admittedly. We need to know where the toilets are about a thousand times a day. Know what events are on during your shift. Know where the venues are and know the map intimately. Questions continue all the way home on the train if you are still wearing your T-shirt and lanyard we are told.
I will be very excited to report on my first question… hope it’s not too pedestrian. Or too hairy. Either way I am ready to go. First stop: my local library for Sandra Leigh Price and The River Sings.
Sydney Writers Festival is 22-28th May
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuCZP35tRLm6YfvB9HiS3Vg
iTunes Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/sydney-writers-festival/id985898011?mt=2
Genuinely fearing for my life, I tried to think of something else. Like… how does an overdressed, pathetically outlandish, absurdly silent creature do this to a bunch of strangers? I didn’t actually get to an answer because I lost focus on the rational and started laughing again. Snot dribbling, eye watering, heart contracting, can’t breathe laughing.
PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS is playing at one of my favourite venues, Old 505 Theatre in Newtown. It’s a small independent theatre which consistently punches above its weight but as the intro last night said “It’s not often we have an artist fly in from Mexico.” Gabriela Muñoz is a legend in the clowning community. And her internationally feted creation, Greta, is here for the first time.
To get the Miss Haversham references over early, Greta is alone, a wedding fantasist, spurned yet desperate for love and garbed in a tattered bridal gown. She doesn’t notice us until the audience is fully seated and then we become her playmates in a shared fantasy of enduring love. The clown doesn’t speak but has a squeaky, musical intonation that’s useful when we don’t get what is required of us by the eternally quizzical eyebrow or her small, intimate movements. Continue reading PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS @ THE OLD 505→
Loved it. I just loved everything about New Theatre’s THE CHAPEL PERILOUS. I loved the lead performance, I loved the men, I loved the set, lighting, audio, costumes. I loved the Ensemble work. I even loved my Cherry Ripe at interval.
But then … I would say that wouldn’t I.
Any Australian woman of a certain age, who studied literature or was involved in theatre or who loved too deeply, has Sally Banner as part of her feminist socio-political DNA.
Playwright Dorothy Hewitt called the play outrageously biographical, so much so that one of her ex-husbands sued for libel. The out of court settlement meant that the play was never produced or sold in Western Australia until his death early this century. But the time is right for Sally Banner to rise again.
I was despairing to see her again and there she was fully fleshed. Tormented by unseen desires, achingly desperate and encumbered by intelligence, gender and status Sally Banner is one of the more difficult of the monstrous regiment of women who dare an opinion. She is as I remember her. Yet….
Director Carissa Licciardello has brought us a Sally Banner for a new generation. Not updated exactly, still scrupulously set 1930s to 60s but a modern protagonist for all that. However, it’s a very difficult play. An audience needs to know about the society Sally inhabits: it is not writ large, it’s background only and if you didn’t live it, it must seem very foreign. There were several noisy escapees last night and more who didn’t return after interval. But it’s a marvellous rendering so, young or old go and see it. But here’s what you need to know if you haven’t met Sally before.
Catholics or Masons: small towns were divided that way and Masons had lodges not schools. Viciously rigid, ecclesiastical Sisters and Mothers and Brothers and Fathers were the way to get what your parents saw as a good education for nice girls. Not that it mattered. Nurses or teachers … that’s why women went to university. Same sex desire, youthful sexual desire of any overt kind actually, was sinful and there was no shortage of people your age and older to condemn it in you. As consciousness heightened in them the search often took women to a political place and the fear of the Red Menace was just as real in Australia if not as excessively hunted as in the US.
Our introduction to Sally Banner is when she looks out and begins a list of women’s names, aspirationally adding hers to the list as a poet. Julia Christensen holds the stage from that first sequence. Christiansen is terrific as the schoolgirl Sally. Pragmatic and driven but young and passionate. By the time she cheekily looks directly at us before she is called to bow to the altar, we are hers. When her indecision and acquiescence to some of the men in her life muddy the passion of the older Sally, Christiansen brings so much genuine emotion to the role that tears arise unbidden. I headed to wash my face before getting my interval chocolate.
And her voice work is exceptional. After interval, when the strewn wreckage of Sally’s choices rises and falls on the Red Tide she both whispers and yells with no sign of strain or any assault on the ear. The accent is modern. No clipped Received Pronunciation here; vowels are long and consonants elided. Her physicality is open and she listens with as much intent as she speaks. It’s a bravura performance.
And she is well matched by Tom Matthews who plays the men in her life. The directorial choice to tie these men together with a unified softness of manner gives strong character support to Sally’s disappointed search to rewrite that first betrayal.
Mathews’ men are clear characterisations with clear intent but are neither showy not abrasive. He might don eyewear or divest of a shirt but he doesn’t twist or manipulate these men into being. We understand that they are Sally’s ‘type’ and that their individuality is blurred by her perceptions of them.
Licciardello has guided all her cast into fine characterisations. As Judith, Meg Clarke expresses well the struggles of acknowledging love outside societal norms and her perfidy is convincingly torn. Brett Heath and Alison Chambers are scarred and scared from the war, from boredom, from being saddled with a difficult child and they work well together as the first wall that Sally must scale.
Though the first section of the show is an hour and a half, the second much shorter, Licciardello has also successfully plotted the rhythm of the play. There are busy scenes but there is also quietude to allow an audience to appreciate the pathos. The after sex scene is an excellent example of the intelligent, intellectual heartbreak of a formative disappointment. There is also some lovely movement work from the cast. The break-back dip during Night and Day was so subtle, sweet and character filled that I gasped out loud at its power.
And Licciardello has brought out the humour too, right from the beginning where misguided recollections batter at reality. I might have been the only one laughing quietly last night, but when you do go allow yourself to enjoy the lightness of the play. And the communal nature of the stylistic interventions of Hewitt’s text. Like the music of Jerusalem and The Worker’s Flag with the slow beat of an unfelted shoe on a bare stage.
Kyle Jonsson’s set has a primitive, claustrophobic feel reminiscent of Stone Age caves with sacrificial altars. When lit from behind the implication of a paling fence is there in upstage uprights but the real effect is to echo the Eureka Stockade. Our heroine tries to rebel against being fenced in for much of the play. The entrances are well masked, wide and perfectly timed by the cast. The symbolic triangle, the Egyptian and feminist symbol for woman, though inverted, dominates the set. And provides the lighted path to Sally’s final act toward the Chapel Perilous of Arthurian legend.
Clemence Williams audio and Martin Kinnane lighting had me from the start. That first burst of thunder and lightning to herald initial character entry… wow. The lighting is warm and focusing and the big hits of white from upstage glare and foreground when needed. The state changes gently guide the audience eye as the audio underscore impassively supports the emotional imperative then gets out of the way. Single sounds, bassy or higher pitched; long and mournful the audio wafts and weaves without overpowering.
Even Neko Case on the soundtrack at interval was emotive and perfectly chosen. Courtney Westbrook’s costumes raise the scarlet standard high amongst the unremitting beige and grey and I loved the almost imperceptible change of period style after the interval.
I loved it all. New Theatre’s THE CHAPEL PERILOUS is one of my favourite shows this year. Pack some Cherry Ripes in your handbag and experience what a modern cast bring to a story of its time. Not to be missed.
THE CHAPEL PERILOUS continues at New Theatre, Newtown until 27 May.
Thrillers are tricky. TV only gets it right sometimes and even multi-million dollar movies can miss the mark. Go to the theatre to see a thriller and what do we want? For me, I want the experience to include some mystery, some high tension goings on and some unseeable, unexpected, plot twists. Throwing Shade’s DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS does a really good job putting all these on stage at King Street Theatre.
The self-named Timothy Timmony, an alchemist’s name if we ever heard it, appears to be a mild mannered, slightly absent minded and bumbling bookshop proprietor. As he is closing for the day, into his little shop bursts Simon Matthews, an adventurer of sorts with a rather odd desire for a book on the Napoleonic Wars. The mystery begins.
DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS is the little play that could. Written and set by Warwick Moss in the early 1980s in Sydney, it has had productions in London and off Broadway and one production received a favourable review in the New York Times in 1987. Moss has spoken in an interview about his love for the secrets behind cat’s eyes and how his book owner also relishes the ability of secrets to get you what you want.
The cast of Gabriel Egan (Simon) and William Jordan (Timothy) with director Tom Richards have created a production which balances the mystery of the developing storyline with the lighter moments as the unscrupulous young tomcat circles the streetwise and manipulative alleycat.
Egan brings that high energy on with him and manages the delicate task of keeping Simon dynamic without wearing out his audience or getting so big as to be out of character.
Jordan is equally effective at being openly secretive by engendering Timothy with the distinct impression he has just told a lie, even when being confessional.
The production elements tie in nicely to the 1984 setting and it’s worth staying in the theatre at interval to listen to some great Aussie rock tracks.
It’s quite a short offering but, apart from a dip in the second sequence, DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS is an entertaining pacey show.
DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS continues at King Street Theatre until 13 May.
If the act of reading is necessarily a quiet, solitary activity the opposite can be true of when we share or discuss what we read. This dynamic communality is what draws me every year to the Sydney Writer’s Festival.
Some of the best conversations I have ever had about writing, the perception of writing, even the act of writing have been in queues on cool May afternoons as I wait gratefully to attend an SWF event. Strangers with whom I might disagree, agree, agree to disagree or simply be excited with.
And it appears that I am not the only one who acknowledges the pleasure of choosing from over 300 events each year. Today I did my first shift as an SWF volunteer. One of the hundreds of people who put up their hands to make this iconic Sydney event run smoothly for the solitary love of reading and the vibrant sharing of what we read. Continue reading Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017→
5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE … good title! As they say. And truth in advertising. There are lesbians, five in fact, and there is a quiche. More than one actually. Plus there is a disturbingly excitable female cast, a ludicrous number of egg references and some extraordinarily silly language- reclamation of the ‘L’ word.
The Susan B Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein is a group of mid 1950s widows who meet to honour their founder who was lost, hungry and butch when she stumbled into a bunch of wild chickens whose eggs sustained her in some peculiar ritualistic, emotive, gynocentric kind of way.
Yeah, even typing that is weird. So … anyway: they have an annual sacred quiche competition to honour the egg, the ovum, the pre-chicken dinner. Apparently we, the audience, have submitted a quiche for judgement too. But the threat of nuclear war is putting a damper on the hijinks. The red menace looms like against- the-rules meat in a quiche. Continue reading 5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE @ GLEN STREET : A FLUFFY CONFECTION→
Jacinta Gregory has constructed an entertaining show full of carefully balanced variety, terrific singing with great music and loads of promise. Beginning with a very well penned, funny yet sort of sad, opening song about Gregory’s depression and ending with a full downer ballad about her struggles, the show has Gregory’s singing and original material at its centre.
And she writes really well. The songs, short and snappy in the main, have a wistful ring beneath their wry look at life. It’s light with an occasional hint of something deeper but not taking itself too seriously. There is no shortage of satire either. Getting an audience on her side to singalong with a racist ditty about nationalism was really clever. Continue reading JACINTEGRATING WITH JACINTA GREGORY @ THE FACTORY→
Being in the Mardi Gras Parade? One word … chafing. Maybe too words … sore feet. Possibly three words… rain and drizzle.
So why do it?
This is what my photographer friend and I set out to explore in the 3 hours we were wandering in the float assembly area before the off. I know why I do it. Despite the weather, forgetting the very tender balls of my feet this morning and in spite of a wet weather plastic uniform which would simply not behave and stay away from exposed skin! I march with the SES because it is an inclusive organisation that welcomes all people and who helps anyone in the community who needs us.Continue reading SYDNEY MARDI GRAS PARADE 2017 : A GREAT CELEBRATION→
Kate Mulvany IS Shakespeare’s Richard III. No need to read any further. Get your hands on a ticket now as they will become collectors’ items and in 5, 10, 20 years’ time when people speak of Mulvany’s performance, and they will, you will want to say you were there. Bell Shakespeare and Kate Mulvany bring RICHARD III spine- tinglingly alive at the Sydney Opera House.
Why Shakespeare’s Richard III? Since his carpark exhumation from the remains of Leicester’s Greyfriars Church in August 2012, the legacy reconstruction of the last king of the House of York, last of the Plantagenet dynasty is part of the zeitgeist. That man is not Shakespeare’s man. When he wrote it, Will was an early-career, jobbing actor and writer: politically and financially bound to sponsors. Sponsors like the Stanley Family who appear to great credit in a play designed to flatter one reputation by destruction of another.
In this 400 year old text, the Duke, Protector, King thereafter who must be brought to life is physically ‘misshapen’ and emotionally driven to ‘stand upon the hazard of the die’. Mulvany and Director Peter Evans have interrogated this, the second longest of the canon, and found in it the caustic humour and the slimy charm that allows real insight into the mind of this villain. Without the blood and gore implied and with delicious licence to secretly enjoy the malicious machinations of the unreconstructed Richard. Continue reading BELL SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS ‘RICHARD III @ THE PLAYHOUSE→
Since 472 BC when Aeschylus created dialogue by adding ‘the antagonist’ to what had only been chorus and ‘the protagonist’, theatrical representations of human impulses have most often been expressed as discussion.
MEMBER has only one man on stage. He is protagonist and antagonist, speaker and listener, inner thought and outward expression. There is, however, further discussion taking place behind him in the shadows of the tiny black stage, where a clamour of voices has contributed to this extraordinary work. Artists, common people and the recounting of those involved are all alive in the yellowing spotlights.
Sometimes it’s so nice to just sit in an intimate theatre to feel a show rather than just watch and hear. BIG CROW is certainly intimate. You are close to the cast, almost stepping over a dying boy as you enter. And it’s a narrow story with characters who are in a situation of their own devising.
Tommy and Albie accepted a spur of the minute trip from London to Australia. A big move for the 1930’s but any promise of the good life has been sucked out of the boys by Roy, a farmer who talked them into working for him in the middle of nowhere and has treated them very badly. They decide on revenge and attack Roy bent on killing him. Roy appears not to have treated anyone of his acquaintance well. His wife and daughter happen upon the scene and are content to watch rather than intervene. Continue reading MARK LANGHAM’S ‘BIG CROW’ @ ACTORS PULSE THEATRE REDFERN→
Nothing is as it seems in THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. From the obscuring haze of thick smoke as we enter the theatre to the delicately constructed dance of death that concludes the work, people and events are viewed through a glass darkly. A mirror, a lens, a dirty window pane perhaps. There is an obstinate obfuscation in Lachlan Philpott’s text and Director Kate Gaul has successfully pulled the story from the page without exposing it to the full light. Like the magnesium flashpowder of the antique photographer’s T which will give light to a sepia photograph, there are puffs of understanding dispersed in a stillness of wondering.
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is a highly theatrical interpretation of a true story. Harry Crawford was arrested in July 1920 for the October 1917 murder of his wife, Annie. Her charred remains had been found near the Lane Cove River at Chatswood where she and Harry had been picnicking. When taken to the police station, Harry asked to be taken to the female cells and it was revealed that he was in fact Eugenia Falleni, assigned female at birth. Harry had been living as cisgender man since he had run away to sea as a very young person.
Most Sydney theatres have something running to support the LGBTQI community during Mardi Gras. Gone are the days when it was about grasping for the pink or lavender dollar, the offerings these days are genuine attempts to tell stories which put the gay and lesbian community on stage with dignity and acceptance. MAKING LOVE does that in spades. The story may have a heterosexual story as the plot driver but love is the theme. Whoever you love.
It’s the future. One can buy abiding love if you are as rich and successful as Sara is. Sara is nervous. She has purchased or designed or created or customised (euphemisms abound and there is an evident nomenclature war for acceptance) a synthetic companion D’Arcy. D’Arcy is being delivered with the support of a PAXCORP representative, Mitchell and his synthetic partner Hercules. It’s all a bit comfy until Jackson, an old flame, unexpectedly bursts in and skews the dynamic. There is also a truth game invented by Hercules which threatens the harmony.Continue reading JESS SCOTT DRIKSNA’S ‘MAKING LOVE’ : A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE?!→
Mums and Dads were highest on the thank you lists from the participants for TROP JNR this year and the audience was certainly filled with siblings and adults rooting for their films.
TROP JR is part of TROPFEST and has been running side by side since 2008. Modelled on the world’s largest short film festival, TROPFEST, TROP JR is a short filmmaking competition and a free, outdoor festival for kids aged 15 years and younger. Each year there is a ‘signature item’ which needs to be included. This year was it was ‘mask’.
TROPFEST moved from Centennial Park to Parramatta Park this year but the weather was not co-operating. To keep the kids safe in the extreme heat, the organizers moved events to a cinema and everyone I spoke to was incredibly relieved to be settled into the air con. Some of the tiniest supporters may have missed having a run in wide open spaces but the rest of us settled back to see these remarkable young filmmakers’ work. Continue reading TROP JNR 2017 : OUR YOUNG FILMMAKERS SHOW PLENTY OF PROMISE→
Without confirming or denying whether I might have been involved, I can report that there was a kind of geriatric mosh pit for the finale of TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull. I can also report that the encores were played to standing audiences and that the roof was raised. It was a marvellous concert. Wonderful songs that have stood the test of time and voices to soothe the savage beast of some very hot and cross looking audience members on a 43 degree day.
Byrne and Bull hit the stage bare footed. You know it’s going to be good when artists want the freedom to move easily or plant their feet and belt. WAY OVER YONDER begins and the voices fill the room and wrap around us before the power of a yearning bass guitar sneaks in. Calm descends and “true peace of mind” is sweet and longing as the artists swap leads back and forth.
Their blend is just lovely, Bull with those magnificent top notes deliciously combining with Byrne’s rich, full lower notes. The crowd went nuts about this time, and it didn’t let up through I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE when the seating started to shake with the audience’s rhythmic nod-along.
Byrne and Bull spoke often to the audience, explaining their joy in celebrating with us the work of Carole King, about the history of the album and titbits concerning their relationship with the songs. Bull was five years old when TAPESTRY came out. But Byrne, like the older women and slightly fewer older men who made up most of the crowd, found that for every life experience, King had written a song. As the singer explained , they couldn’t do them all but they gave it a bloody good try.
The Brill band, named for the iconic building associated with Carole King and explored in the BRILL BUILDING LEGENDS recording series, are lovely in support but the night belongs to the two women. And their moves.
Byrne has lost none of her YOUNG TALENT TIME dance skills. She glides and stomps and taps around the stage yet the highlight of the night for me was the two of them on stools: still and soulful. Seated downstage centre for YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND the voices melded in the sheer joy of wonderful piano orchestration and the love of expressing emotion. Goosebumps! TAPESTRY was also superb as they stood together in that downstage area, arms around each other in a soft amber light.
Everyone seemed to have their favourites. The band would give the first few bars of any intro and a cheer would go up somewhere. Byrne and Bull rollicked or gently meandered through I THINK I CAN HEAR YOU; SMACKWATER JACK; BEAUTIFUL; GOING BACK and heaps more.
Second favourite? COME DOWN EASY with Bull’s unparalleled harmonics, and featuring only bongos and triangle behind Byrne’s soulful rendition. No wonder I was out of my seat for the encores. Oops!
TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING, with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull, was performed for one night only, Friday 10th February at the Enmore Theatre.
If you are a lover of rapid fire witticisms, frequent bon mots or bitchily wry observations you are in for a treat. There is luscious dialogue rich with contrapuntal adjectives in a very funny script. This New Theatre’s production is well realised with a nice balance of meaningless fluff and fluffy meaningfulness. Not too heavy, not too light, just all round enjoyable.
Mitchell is an up and coming movie star. Diane is his vociferous agent and wannabe producer. Alex is a men’s escort. Ellen is Alex’s love interest. In the beginning anyway.
Mitchell, who is seriously pissed in a hotel room, hires Alex. Things do not go well initially but in the morning there is the distinct whiff of a disastrous amour fou. Diane will need to balance bedings with the bravura public performances keeping Mitchell’s sexual orientation firmly cupboard-locked. She gets it: she’s a fixer … and a lesbian …so rely on her to get things done. Ellen is a party girl and knows what it means to be dumped, still this is a new one even for her. Continue reading THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED : WIT AND LAUGHTER @ THE NEW→
Blackout Theatre is kicking ass and taking names at Lend Lease Theatre in the Darling Quarter.
Add my name to the list: the list of supporters and advocates for this kick-ass community theatre and the list of audience members who absolutely loved DOGFIGHT on its opening night.
DOGFIGHT is a musical set in San Francisco, November 21st 1963 as the Vietnam War rages and Haight Ashbury is attracting the ‘love not hate’ unwashed . It was written with hindsight in the early part of the second decade of this century by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known together as Pasek and Paul, who won the Golden Globe and have been nominated for an Oscar for LA LA LAND. It did not wow at the time.